What was that flash across the night sky in Oregon? Likely space debris

Oregon

Many people captured it on their cell phones

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Was that a meteor? Space junk? Aliens?

Probably not. It’s more likely the second stage of the Falcon 9 that launched March 4.

Whatever it was, it lit up the night sky over Oregon just after 9 p.m. Thursday, drawing gasps of wonder and many posts to social media.

The sight was summed up by @kaallori: “Meteor? I don’t know what that was, but it was spectacular.”

KOIN 6 News Chief Meteorologist Natasha Stenbock said all signs point to this, a tweet from @planet4589:

“The Falcon 9 second stage from the Mar 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn and is now reentering after 22 days in orbit. Its reentry was observed from the Seattle area at about 0400 UTC Mar 26.”

“The Falcon 9 second stage from the Mar 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn and is now reentering after 22 days in orbit. Its reentry was observed from the Seattle area at about 0400 UTC Mar 26.” (Twitter/Jonathan McDowell @planet4589)

That’s what Jim Todd of OMSI thinks, too.

“Definitely thought it was man-made because of how long it burned, how it broke apart, it had a boom associated with it. If it was a fireball it would have been much faster,” Todd told KOIN 6 News.

“It’s apparently from the Falcon 9, that March 4 launch, the second stage. Pretty classic man-made,” he said.

Todd said it was pretty exciting that so many people spotted it. “Everyone around the Pacific Northwest got to see it.”

He’s not sure if any of the debris made it to the ground.

“Could there be debris? Certainly. But it was burning up.”

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